There were tries aplenty at the rugby fields of the Technical High School Drostdy, with Western Province, Eastern Province and Griquas Country Districts amongst those who warmed to the occasion and score some spectacular tries.
Early action kicked off in icy conditions and mist, but the weather soon changed to pleasant, with the teams responding accordingly.
Western Province made their mark against Free State, easily outplaying the Bloemfontein side, while Eastern Province overcame the Pumas in a lively match.
KZN were also impressive, brushing aside SWD. The Blue Bulls also showed good form in coming from behind to beat hosts, Boland.
Blue Bulls 31 (3), Boland 24 (7)
The Blue Bulls scored two tries in the last five minutes to clinch a good win. Boland had the best of the exchanges in the first half and were leading deservedly at the break.
If defense dominated the first 35 minutes, not so in the second as both teams scored some great tries, with the brace by Blue Bulls’ Lyle Marat the most telling as it first drew scores level and then won his team the match.
Blue Bulls 31 (3). Tries: Chevan Swart, Lylle Maart (2), Shakeel Fredericks. Conversions: Hendrik Mulder (4). Penalty: Mulder.
Boland 24 (7).Tries: Jacobus Abel, Jaydrin Kotze (2). Conversions: Gevin Scheepers, Cleo Adams (2). Drop goal: Adams.
Griffons CD 18 (13), Griquas 17 (7)
Griquas were their own worst enemy in a match where they created numerous chances, but converted a few. They took an early lead, but soon lost their way as the Griffons capitalised on their mistakes. A yellow card and two failed kicks in the last couple of minutes compounded their start in the early morning cold.
Griffons CD 18 (13). Tries: Bongani Mkhuma, Danre Smit, Tinus Schoeman. Penalty: Angeloo Pienaar.
Griquas 17 (7). Tries: Christiaan van Zyl, Gerhard Badenhorst, Lorenzo Malgas. Conversion: Ewan Marcus
Border 34 (13), Griffons 10 (3)
Border proved far too slick for the Northern Free State team and delivered a strong second half performance to win going away.
The first half was fairly competitive, with the Griffons doing well in the tight phases, but in the second half, there was only one team on the field as Border’s passing stretched the Griffons defence.
Border 34 (13). Tries: Penalty Try, Cole van Tonder, Daniel Voigt, Heinrich Nieuwenhuizen. Conversion: Liam McLoughlin (4). Penalties: McLoughlin (2).
Griffons 10 (3). Tries: Adriaan Odendaal, Tiisetso Madonsela. Conversion: Louis Spershott. Penalty: Corne Cooper
Golden Lions 26 (7), Red Valke 12 (12)
Talk about a match of two halves. The Valke did all the playing in the first half and had all the answers up front. The second half saw the Golden Lions getting some ball and in the hands of their backs, who had too much pace and power for their opponents.
Golden Lions 26 (12). Tries: Adriaan van Blerk, Craig Hume, Lucky Mkhize (2). Conversions: Johan Saayman (3).
Red Valke 12 (12). Tries: Edwin Jansen, Thinus Grundlingh. Conversion: Marnus Gruber.
Limpopo Blue Bulls 31 (3), Pumas Country Districts 3 (3)
The Limpopo Blue Bulls impressed with their good interplay and communication, but lacked composure on attack. A good half-time talk sorted that out and when they returned in the second half, the Pumas Country Districts team could not contain them.
Limpopo Blue Bulls 31 (3). Tries: Pule Molokomme, Frans Botha, Hendrik Nel. Conversions: Hardus Geldenhuys (4). Penalty: Geldenhuys.
Pumas Country Districts 3 (3). Penalty: Carl Jacobsy
Griquas Country Districts 33 (3), Border Country Districts 3 (3)
The Border side were in trouble from the start. Griquas opted for some early penalties to get the scoreboard rolling, but once they started to attack with ball in hand, rewards came in the form of five well-worked tries.
Griquas Country Districts 33 (21). Tries: Adriaan Burger, Breslen Ryk, Dirk Hanekom, Juniel Cloete, Sarel van der Merwe. Conversion: DJ Brand. Penalties: Brand (2).
Border Country Districts 0 (0).
Blue Valke 31 (19), LSEN Schools 8 (5)
The LSEN team only had two training sessions as a team and it showed as the Valke showed more fluidity and composure, especially on attack. The LSEN defence also lacked the communication needed to stop the Valke, who gelled nicely.
Blue Valke 31 (19). Tries: Anthony Robertson, Delmond Venske, Gert Mulder (2), Visser van der Bank. Conversions: Rudolf Heenop (3).
LSEN 8 (5). Try: Bradley Meintjies. Penalty: Johannes Visser
EP Country Districts 37 (17), Leopards 0 (0)
It was a very mature performance by the EP team. They played structured and with discipline, but never failed to get the ball to their speedy outside backs. This was appreciated by Glen Flitoor, who scored the first hat-trick of the afternoon.
EP CD 37 (17). Tries: Glen Flitoor (3), Siyamthanda Siaw (2). Conversions: Christiaan Nel (3). Penalties: Nel (2).
Leopards 0 (0).
Eastern Province 49 (23), Pumas 31 (17)
The Eastern Province team delivered the best performance of the day, but take nothing away from the Pumas, who gave it their all as well. In the end the EP side’s loose forwards combined beautifully and proved a seamless interaction between backs and forwards, with no8 Dean van der Westhuizen rewarded with a brace.
Fullback Garrick Mattheus also kicked like a machine.
Eastern Province 49 (23). Tries: Dean van der Westhuizen (2), Denver Kleu, Duan du Plessis, Duwayne Baartman, Luciano Grootboom. Conversions: Garrick Mattheus (5). Penalties: Mattheus (3).
Pumas 31 (17). Tries: Fana Ngwenya (2), Lukhanyiso Makaula, Philani Nkosi. Conversions: Wessel Muller (4). Penalty: Muller.
Western Province 43 (17), Free State 5 (0)
Western Province proved far too slick and well-coached for Free State, who had enough possession, but not enough variation to beat the WP defence. The Free State side wanted to play wide all the time and it made it easy for the WP to push them over the sidelines.
When on attack WP played it down the middle of the field, which resulted in gaps opening up on both sides, which was exploited with some good angled running and support play.
Western Province 43 (17). Tries: Carlu Sadie, Danrich Visagie, Michael Meyer, Mitchell Carstens, Mujaahid van der Hoven, Taigh Schoor. Conversions: Cornel Smit (5). Penalty: Rayhaan Lombaard.
Free State 5 (0). Try: Johan Steyn.
KZN Country Districts 22 (8), Namibia 22 (15)
In one of the most entertaining matches of the day, a draw was perhaps the best result for both teams. Both showed much on attack, but serious lapses on defence, which resulted in some rather easy tries being scored.
Namibia played their best rugby in the first half and looked set for a win, but KZN scored some long-range tries in the second half to jump into the lead. A try with the last play and a successful conversion by Namibia brought the match to an entertaining end.
KZN CD 22 (8).Tries: Clifferd Jacobs, Kyle Rhode, Phakama Zondi. Conversions: Ryan Elliott (2). Penalty: Elliott.
Namibia 22 (15). Tries: Jerome Stephan Beukes, Schalk Grobbelaar, Tobie Van Zyl. Conversions: Hendrique Olivier (2), Penalty: Olivier
KZN 32 (19), SWD 18 (11)
A strong start by KZN earned them this win. They were all over their opponents in the early part of the match, scoring three tries in quick succession. The second half was a matter of calm heads for KZN and SWD trying to play catch-up rugby.
KZN 32 (19). Tries: Bader-Werner Pretorius, Donovan du Randt (2), Renier Pieterse, Sam Matiwane. Conversions: Bader-Werner Pretorius (2). Penalty: Pretorius.
SWD 18 (11). Tries: Tries: Craig Booysen, Litho Ferreira. Conversion: Maurice White. Penalties: White (2).
Boland XV 20 (10), Golden Lions XV 19 (14)
Boland came back well in the second half and spurred on by the locals, out-edged the Golden Lions at the death. A last minute penalty by Boland centre Ruben Brandt, who missed one just before, sealed the win for the home side.
Boland XV 20 (10). Tries: Brandon Swanepoel, Christo Smit. Conversions: Ruben Brandt (2). Penalties: Brandt (2).
Golden Lions XV 19 (14). Tries: Hendre Saayman, Lwazi Monakali, Tatenda Zhoya. Conversions: Rashard Fuller (2).